Third and final day of the East and Southern Africa Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against children that took place in Johannesburg from 18 to 20 July 2005.
[JOHANNESBURG, 20 July 2005] – During the final day of the consultation, preliminary findings from working groups were presented to the plenary. Recommendations were agreed upon but are still subject to final technical amendments before they are made available.
A representative of the African Union (AU) said its role was one of leadership and advocacy. It brings up important issues, such as recommendations made here at the highest level for endorsement by national governments and it oversees the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The Charter, he said, was not well known and that there was a need to popularise it, to all stakeholders, including children. In light if this, she said the ratification process of the African Charter by countries that had not yet done so had to be accelerated.
Dr. Aseffa Bequele, Member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, said this consultation had been a good opportunity to bring NGOs and governments together to discuss issues that were never raised before. “Our task is enormous and should be carried out at pan African level and at national level.” The Committee is entrusted with the task of promoting the rights and welfare of the child and there is no more fundamental right and obligation than protecting children from violence. He said he hoped the Committee will take this up as one the themes to push to focus on in the coming years.
He ended by mentioning the connection between poverty, culture and violence saying it was a very deceptive issue. “Poverty is fundamental to many issues in our region. Yet, poverty is no excuse for inaction, poverty is no excuse for raping women, or raping children. Poverty is no excuse for beating women or beating children. It must be heard that we Africans are against violence against women and children.”
Carol Bower from RAPCAN, spoke on behalf of NGOs participating at the consultation. She said they were pleased the consultation had succeeded in providing input in the global study, and that there was a commitment from NGOs in contributing to the development of a consolidated pan African position paper on violence against children.
Some of the child participants mentioned concerns they have with regards to violence in the home and family, in schools, in communities, in the workplace and in institutions. One child said children felt a big step had been taken here to ensure children are respected, however governments, NGOs, the UN and the private sector should ensure laws are implemented and monitored. “We will make sure to share our learning from this consultation with our parents and our communities when we come home” one young delegate added.
In the closing session, the UNICEF country representative said there were three issues that were essential in the context of a non-violent environment for children: peace, democracy and freedom. “It is only through democratic processes that we can protect children, […] and without freedom, issues of violence go underground” he said.
Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said he was pleased detailed and clear recommendations had been agreed upon during this consultation, and they will surely be included in the Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly. He emphasised the input of civil society and their future role in the follow-up to recommendations.
Cheryl Gilwald, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, South Africa said the fact that children suffer from violence was “our failure, we leave these legacies that make children vulnerable, we need to take responsibility”.
Previous News release items
- 19/07/2005: Corporal Punishment in East and Southern Africa
- 19/07/2005: Children’s Forum, Summary from Working Groups
- 19/07/2005: Presentation on Corporal Punishment at the East & Southern Africa Consultation
- 19/07/2005: Presentation byShirley Mabusela at the East and Southern Africa Consultation
- 18/07/2005: EAST & SOUTHERN AFRICA: Consultation Opens
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Last updated 20/07/2005 11:40:54